Destined for Death (Metal)

I can finally reveal the cover I illustrated for Dauthuz‘ first full-length album — in all its original black-and-white glory and goriness.
Dauthuz, skull, tshirt, album cover, death metal, old school

Mind you, this version — the one I prefer and give you here — differs signifcantly from the definitive cover art, as can be seen on their website.

I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus. The band couldn’t get behind the design as originally intended by me, and so they had some changes made (by someone else than me). I don’t like it — but there’s no pleasing everyone, and that’s just the way is. So I’m not going to complain or throw a fit. But I do feel a need to explain what I feel has gotten lost in the final design.

For starters, gone now is the simple triangular composition, and with it the tight negative space surrounding the skull and corpses; gone now the eye in the right socket, and with it a centrifugal focal point. On that last note, the focal potential of the center skull is even further undermined by the bright candy red color scheme of the background — an area that due to its radiance, now “pops” to the foreground.

And it’s not just the layout that took a hit. Subtle references to some of my favorite artists and bands are no longer there anymore. Take the eye, for instance. It was meant to be a design nod to Mark Riddick, one of the industry’s greats, whose work has been of great influence to me. Now it’s just a gaping hole, void of any reference.

Oh well, it is as it is. But it does make me think about how I want to go about things in the future. And, well, I still got a solid portfolio piece out of it, which also counts for something.

The album titled by the way, Destined by Death will be out in November.

Digital Inking: Clip Studio Paint vs. Artrage

Alright, let’s talk digital inking software — but first, a little introduction.

I am especially fond of Belgian-Franco comics, also Dutch ones — party because of the way they are drawn and inked. Among the comics artists I admire particularly are Franquín (Gaston), Albert Underzo (Astérix), and Martin Lodewijk (Agent 327). You know what these guys have in common? Their linework linework has a playful smoothness  — one I, at least, find hard to emulate.

Me, I don’t have steady hands. So getting crisp lines on a canvas has been a pain and a grief since the first day I tried my hand at it. This all goes to say that I most welcomed auto-smoothing tools — especially the one of ArtRage, which is why ArtRage became my “go-to” software for cartoon inking. After some misfires, I came close to getting it right (see the cartoon below). tumblr_ogbml8bn8a1tlpjb5o1_1280

Yeah. I would say the inking looks okay enough, though perhaps a bit too cold and clinical. And I say to you now, that is the very problem with auto-smoothing, and that leads me to the irony of it all: Oh sure, you finally got your crisp lines, but all the playfulness is smoothed out.

I had already figured out that if you want to ink something gnarly organic, you’re probably better off using Clip Studio Paint (a.k.a. Manga Studio) (see the detail close-ups below of a work-in-progress) —
dauthuz

— instead of ArtRage (see the close-up below of a piece done last year).
skull-side

Why, you may ask? Why not just use ArtRage, but with a different pen or different settings? Can’t you, then, just make the same gnarly drawing? Well, I found that I couldn’t. For example, once I turned off the smoothing in ArtRage, I ended up with jaggy lines that scream “digital.” Also, Clip Paint Studio, even by default, has a bigger number of available ink brushes for selection — not surprisingly of course, because ArtRage is first and foremost a painting software while Clip Studio Paint is geared toward artists making black-and-white comic strips.

Last night, I tried, for the first time, to do some cartooning in Clip Paint Studio, without any smoothing to aid me — and I’m loving it! I thought I, with my shakey hands, wouldn’t be able to get smooth lines and curves, but to my surprise — it’s actually really easy to ink smoothly and crisply while, even more importantly, even retaining that organic “feel” (see the cartoon head below)! Truly mind-blowing stuff! Now, I’m finally close to making the sort of the comics I so love.

headshot.JPGOh, before I take off, I also want to stress that Clip Studio Paint never seems to lag on my work rig, no matter the amount of layers or the resolution. ArtRage, on the other hand, seems capable only of coping with a limited layer limit. But then, ArtRage emulates analog painting, which in real life constitutes putting down layer on layer on layer, all in the same layer if you will. If high-resolution layer management is what you’re after, look elsewhere. (Did anyone say Clip Studio Paint?)

Let me know about your inking experiences. Please share your stories, insights, and ideas by writing to me.

Dauthuz: Sneak Peek

As I noted in one of my previous blog entries, I’m currently working on a T-shirt design for Dauthuz. It’s shaping up nicely, if I say so myself. And, so far, the feedback on social media has been very positive, even more so than usual. So heh… I might’ve just finally found the right niche for myself. No, to be honest, I don’t think there’s a future in Death Metal T-shirt design because the return simply isn’t there. Most of the time you only get paid in “exposure,” if even that. But it’s fun, for a change, to toy around with new, more gritty ideas and (at least to me) unfamiliar styles of drawing and rendering, so that’s just fine with me. But don’t go expecting I’ll be doing freebies and cheapies for all you bands out there!

Dauthuz, tshirt design, deathmetal, gore, horror, zombie, illustration, skull, blackwhite

 

Hollow Be Thy Name

 

So as you may know, I’m taking a course on video game character design, and I get these homework assignments. This week, the assignment was to take an established video game character and make it fit for another game universe.

Well, I’ve playing Dark Souls 2 a lot lately, which got me inspired to do something in that style. Then it got me thinking, What contrasting video game character could I “fit in” in such a grim, unrelenting atmosphere? I decided on Mario. Now I know, it may not be the most original choice, but I just couldn’t think of a better one than the happy go lucky, child friendly plumber we all know and love.

I didn’t want to mess too much with Mario’s original iconic design. But since Dark Souls features densely detailed characters, I had to make his design a bit more dense as well, and so I added some weapons and armory. Also, I muted the colors a bit to make the mood a bit more dark. And of course, how could I not make him look like a Hollow.

Mario, Nintendo, From Software, Dark Souls, Crossover, Popart, Medieval, Dark Ages, Hollow, Undead, Cartoon, Gerrit Rijken, Iosua, Illustration